Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Houston 2010, week 1 of 2
Earlier this year, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman was nominated for Texas's Horned Toad Tales Award:
This led to a stellar author visit invitation to the Cypress-Fairbanks ("Cy-Fair") school district: 4 presentations a day among 16 schools over 10 days. (Forty presentations in two weeks is equal to 10 naps over 10 days.)
Upon arriving I found that the district, on top of organizing this complicated schedule down to the restaurant we'd have lunch at each day, had also sent each school a Power Point about me to prepare the students:
Here's a photo-montage of my first week. You'll notice that my author visit outfit is not the most dynamic, but I do sometimes go untucked to add just a bit of spice:
A fun display greeted me at Matzke:
These schools went above and beyond with book sales:
A few observations that stood out:
These are some of the nicest librarians one could hope to meet.
A joke in my presentation about frozen lakes goes over big here, even though 'round these parts, frozen lakes are as rare as lousy Mexican food.
Teachers here ask fidgety students to sit not on their bottoms but their pockets.
One school had a dress code with flexibility: students must wear a collared shirt but it can be blue, red, green, or white. While I used to be against dress codes, I now see the benefit, and I like this approach. Kids are held to a certain standard of appearance but are still given some choice.
Many schools in the district are open classroom, meaning the classes are separated only partially by partitions and don't have doors. They surround the library, where I have been speaking in most cases. This means I'm on a microphone while students in adjacent classrooms are trying to concentrate on whatever they're doing. It made me uncomfortable at first but librarians have been assuring me throughout that students (and teachers) are used to it. I'm far from the first author to work in this arrangement.
A few comments that stood out:
After one Q&A, a librarian asked me if green is my favorite color. I asked why she asked and she said because the first five students I called on were all wearing green. (My favorite is currently blue but was green when I was a boy.)
Before one presentation, a girl near the front where I was standing asked me if I had written anything else besides Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. I said yes and she said something to the effect of "Good. Because that book was boring." (I was amused by that, and then heartened that two nearby boys came to the book's defense.)
Lastly, I have been telling each group that I took a plane to see them, given that I'm from up north. After one presentation, a boy came up to ask me if I flew in on a private jet.
Ah, the endearing naïveté of youth.
Houston 2010, week 2 of 2.